Google has been very conservative about releasing APIs for Google+ and may not even release a full read/write API for its social network before the end of this year. The one API the Google+ team has put its weight behind, though, is the Hangouts API, which gives developers access to Google+’s video chat features. Today, the company announced that it is taking this API out of preview. This means developers can now launch and share their hangout apps with the Google+ community. To launch this feature, Google has partnered with a number of developers, including Aces Hangout, Cacoo, Scoot & Doodle, Slideshare and Clubhouse Challenge by Bravo.
A simple click on the Google+ hangout button on these sites opens up a standard Google Hangout with the respective application running inside the same window. You can now also find these apps in the new “Apps” pane in Google+ Hangouts.
Google is rolling this feature out right now, so it may take a bit before it becomes available in your account.
Google, which has been struggling to get users to adopt Google+ as a social network, has long been pushing these video chats as a differentiating feature for its service. It’s not clear how much adoption this feature has seen on Google+ itself (even as video chats become more common, most people still feel very self-conscious on camera, after all). By effectively decoupling hangouts from the social networking aspects of Google+, however, I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of productivity apps and games will adopt this feature now. Google, as far as I can see, isn’t charging developers for this tool and adding video chat tends to be a costly feature for developers.